As readers of my posts are aware, Mrs. C and I recently enjoyed Sunday brunch at Argosy in East Atlanta Village. What I failed to mention was that after I had settled the check, and while Mrs. C went to powder her nose in anticipation of the long drive home, I strolled across the street to peruse the menu and atmosphere at The Elder Tree. Deeming the menu creative enough to rate a future visit (the ambience is Irish pub crossed with sports bar) I recently had lunch, joined by my old friend, Reverend Rondo.
The Reverend and I go back almost 50 years, to the time we were fraternity brothers at the University of Georgia. We both took paths to law, and although he succumbed to his present calling many years ago, we still have much in common, from fox hunting to food, so it is only natural we meet frequently for lunch. Always on the lookout for a new place convenient to his ministry, The Elder Tree was a short ten minute ride and parking was a snap in the massive lot across the street, surrounding Argosy.
We arrived for lunch on a Monday a few minutes after noon, their advertised opening time, and we were the only folks in the front of the restaurant, and I do mean the only ones. Without a soul to greet us and seat us I was tempted to go behind the bar and help myself to a drink, but a stern look from the Reverend disabused me of that notion.
A trip to the kitchen and a knock on that door turned up the affable bartender/waiter and we were off and running. Since we were the only patrons in the bar, the first order of business was to request the volume of the music be lowered. While after all of these years the Reverend and I may not have that much more to say to each other that hasn’t already been said, when the occasion does arise we would like to be able to hear whatever it is. With respect to the music on our visit, it was the Ray Charles station on Spotify, which, as it turned out, was a trip down memory lane, playing many of the songs we had on our juke box at the fraternity house.
I ordered the Trotter, a sandwich of braised pork cheeks, tossed in barbecue sauce and served on a brioche bun with a side of cole slaw (which I immediately put on the sandwich) and French fries, all for $9.00. The Reverend ordered the Cumberland pie, which consisted of ground lamb, ground beef and vegetables, thrown together in a veal gravy topped with colcannon (mashed potatoes with onion and cream) then anointed with melted Irish cheddar. This was $12.00 and half of the very generous portion went home with him for dinner.
While trying to review a restaurant based upon two items from the lunch menu can be risky, if I can extrapolate from the quality and creativity of these two items, I feel safe to say that if the owners and cook (chef?) turned their attention to white tablecloth dining, many restaurants in Buckhead would have serious competition. My French fries alone were raised to an art form – hand cut, crisp exterior and creamy interior. The braised pork cheek melted in my mouth and the sauce was not overwhelming any of the porcine goodness.
The Reverend thought no less of his meal. I will be back to wade through the rest of the menu. The Elder Tree has put me on a mission to come up with a term other than “bar food” to describe what is offered there – it deserves a better moniker. I suspect that at night and on the weekends, when games are being televised, it could be a bit rowdy, so don’t go expecting an intimate dining experience, but please do go expecting to be satisfied by both quality and price.